Beijing: Chinese leader Xi Jinping hosted the heads of Central Asian countries in the Chinese city of Xian on May 18 for a summit that is expected to result in a regional agreement with Beijing.
Following one-on-one talks with Xi on May 18, leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will also hold a group discussion with the Chinese president on May 19.
This is the first time the leaders of the Central Asian countries are meeting in-person with the Chinese president. Xi will give an “important” speech and an “important” political document will also be signed during the two-day conference, according to China’s foreign ministry.
During talks with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov on May 18, Xi said China was “willing to work with Kyrgyzstan to build a community of good neighborliness, friendship, shared prosperity, and a shared future.”
Zhaparov too expressed his willingness to expand trade, economic and investment links with China. “We provide each other with support on topical, vital issues for each of our states,” he said.
Ahead of the summit, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had met with Xi on May 17, with the two countries agreeing to build “an enduring friendship.”
China’s push for global leadership
The summit, which coincides with a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders in Japan, seeks to build regional influence and is of “milestone significance,” Beijing has said.
The conference also comes at a time when Russia is facing Western sanctions for its war in Ukraine and also amid China’s intensified efforts to boost its influence as a global leader while Central Asia remains a key region for China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, a monumental project for Xi.
Experts believe at the summit, China will try to secure deals for building vast transport links and pipelines, including a $6 billion China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway line and an expansion of the Central Asia-to-China gas pipeline, news agency AFP reported.